Songs of My City: Trumpeter Brandon Woody on the Love and Tradition that Shaped Him

The band’s tracks combine jazz improvisation with hip-hop beats and melodies drawn from gospel and soul music, and Woody resists slotting it into one particular particular style. “All of this is Black songs. The stuff with rapping has just as substantially inspiration from people like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and the things with just trumpet from points that are not essentially regarded to be what individuals call jazz,” Woody says. “I just can’t put these genres on items due to the fact that is how people institutionalize them.”

For Woody, Black audio arrives from communities instead than establishments. “You can not learn it from a laptop or a book—that’s just not how it works. You discover it from jam sessions and getting about elder musicians who go it on to you. That is how it is and how it often will be. And discovering from persons like Craig Alston has taught me that I have to give it to the future technology and to my peers.”

Collectively with Lengthy, Woody has introduced his audio earlier the phase. In 2019, Calvin Klein came throughout songs they had recorded and questioned to use it for an advertisement marketing campaign. That commenced an ongoing sequence of movie scoring projects. “I appreciate seeing some thing on the screen, currently being influenced by it, and figuring out how I can portray it musically,” says Woody. He and Long scored music for Unwavering: The Electricity of Black Innovation, a documentary created by the nonprofit Echoing Environmentally friendly about recipients of their Black Male Achievement Fellowship.

True to their nature, a lot of of the duo’s scores have been collaborations with the Baltimore art scene, this sort of as with doing artist Nia June and cinematographer Kirby Griffin. Woody and Long composed audio for a movie by June and Griffin called The Unveiling of God (2021), a visual tribute to the filmmakers’ forefathers and the Black adult men of Baltimore. The scoring operate reflects Woody’s dedication to new music that not only comes from a neighborhood but can also be applied to serve it.

Woody has a lot of new jobs forward of him. He and Prolonged system to go on movie scoring with each other. He and a further musician buddy, Brandon “Buz” Donald, have a instructing and executing residency at the University of Maryland. UPENDO performs weekly at the Town Vineyard in DC and performs weekly at other venues all around Baltimore. The massive occasion this calendar year, nevertheless, will be the launch of UPENDO’s to start with album, as still untitled. The project is several years in the generating, matter to the trumpeter’s ever-superior specifications. He options to release it in August, all-around the time of his (and Alston’s) birthday. 

In spite of his quite a few achievements, Woody locates his milestones at a extra individual degree. He cites meeting Very long, forming UPENDO, and just becoming capable to maintain participating in songs. “I do not want to talk about accolades as well significantly since that is not actually what it’s all about,” Woody suggests. “My audio is about celebrating existence and really like. Adore typically will get viewed as something a single-dimensional, but there are so a lot of unique sorts of really like and so quite a few distinctive ways to adore. That’s what my audio is about.” Woody is strongly mindful of the various varieties of appreciate that have nurtured his music—the enjoy of a mother, of a instructor, of a friend, of the earlier keepers of a tradition—and by his songs, he channels that adore again into the community that 1st offered it.

 

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